Sonia Nazario Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario

An interview with Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario discusses what inspired her to write Enrique's Journey and what drives so many South American women to leave their children for many years in order to find work in the USA.

What inspired you to take on the story of Enrique's Journey?

A woman, Carmen, who would come and clean my house twice a month. She told me that she had four children that she had left behind in Guatemala and had not seen for 12 years. About a year later, her son made the journey to the United States and described to me El Tren de La Muerte, the Train of Death. I found it unbelievably moving: the story of children wanting, at all costs, to be with their mothers and going through these dangerous and terrifying worlds to reach them.


It sounds like your own research was pretty dangerous, too.

I wanted to put readers on top of the train with Enrique and to make them feel that they were alongside him. To do that, I had to retrace his journey myself. I did it the way he did it. Where he rode buses through Central America, I rode buses. And where he boarded the train in southern Mexico, I did, too. But there were times when I was afraid. There were too many close calls. There were times when I was filthy or I couldn't go to the bathroom for hours or was excruciatingly hot or cold or pelted by hail.


What was the most dangerous thing that happened to you?

A branch hit me square in the face while I was on top of the train and I almost fell off. That was pretty harrowing.


It seems like many of the mothers are not prepared for how their departure will affect their children.

A lot of these mothers believe in their hearts that they are doing the best thing by leaving their child. [Because the mothers send money back home] their child will not grow up in such grinding poverty. But the reality is that in most cases the separation lasts much longer than the women believe [it will], and the children ultimately resent their mothers for leaving them. So in the end, for many families, it's a sad story.


It seems like a difficult pattern to break, though, because the poverty is so devastating.

Some of the families live with a tarp over their heads and a dirt floor underneath them. Women describe not having anything to give their children for dinner and giving them a glass of water with a teaspoon of sugar to quiet their bellies. The level of poverty is staggering.


How has writing this book changed your opinions about illegal immigration?

The main change for me has been to recognize that such a powerful stream will only change if it is addressed at its source, if the economies of these countries that are sending large numbers of people to the United States improves. I talked to one kid in southern Mexico who had made 27 attempts to reach his mother in the United States, and he was getting ready to make attempt number 28. You come to believe that no number of border control guards is going to stop someone like that.

More information at EnriquesJourney.com.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...
  • Book Jacket: The Friend
    The Friend
    by Sigrid Nunez
    Sigrid Nunez is one of the most underrated authors writing today. Her work is so lovely, so ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    As Bright as Heaven
    by Susan Meissner

    A story of a family reborn through loss and love in Philadelphia during the flu epidemic of 1918.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

A gripping novel from the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.